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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Take your City and shove it

by Roger Ebert

This is an outrage! Queens, N.Y. Councilman Hiram Monserrate has called for New York City to appropriate "Gotham City" as its official nickname. "I see that as a marketing tool," he told the Village Voice. "Come visit the real Gotham City!"

You and your flywheel, Monserrate.

Where do you think "The Dark Knight" (2008), greatest and most popular of all Batman movies, was filmed? Entirely on location in Chicago, that's where. Where was "Batman" (1989) filmed? London. Where was "Batman Returns" (1992) filmed? The back lots of Burbank. Where was "Batman Forever" (1995), with the second-lowest Rotten Tomatoes score of the franchise, filmed? Mostly California, Oregon and Israel, with some fatal shots to make it look like more like New York.

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How are are we doing? Where was "Batman and Robin" filmed? California, Texas, Canada, Vermont and Austria. Where was "Batman Begins" (2005) filmed? London, Chicago, Iceland and Waukegan, Ill. Hell, where was "Batwoman" (2004) filmed? California and Canada.

What did the critics have to say about TDK's Gotham City? "Gotham is a cleaner, better-lit place (Foundas, Village Voice). "It's no accident that the skyline of Gotham City figures prominently in so many scenes in 'The Dark Knight'" (Phillips, Onion). "Theirs is the emblematic modern megalopolis (in truth, a cleverly disguised Chicago), soulless, anonymous, a city of distorting and shattering mirrors" (Dargis, New York Times).

"Nolan dispenses with the stylized Gothic sets we're accustomed to in the series: he makes no attempt to hide the fact that Gotham City is modern Chicago" (Anson, Newsweek). "This town," the Joker jokes, "deserves a better class of criminals." (Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal). "Christopher Nolan presents the city as a wilderness of skyscrapers, and a key sequence is set in the still-uncompleted Trump Tower" (Me, Chicago Sun-Times).

So take your nickname and shove it up your Batcave, Monserrate. It's bad enough that you ripped off the "Big Apple" label from a Chicago supermarket on Clark St. that has been so known since time immemorial. I've got a hot idea for you. "The Big (Bleeping) Deal."

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